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2014-2015 Seminar Series

Dr. Suzanne Kern, Keck Science Department - Claremont McKenna, Scripps, and Pitzer Colleges

Thursday, May 14, 2015, 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM, Noyes 147

This seminar will focus on tips and guiding principles for getting started, working with students, and refining a course in real-time. Special emphasis will be placed on the value of listening, asking questions, and setting expectations.

Dr. Suzanne Kern joined the W. M. Keck Science Department of the Claremont Colleges as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the fall of 2014. She teaches microbiology and introductory biology to students from Pitzer, Pomona, Scripps, and Claremont McKenna Colleges. Prior to this role, she spent several years at Caltech as a visiting graduate student, resident associate, and head TA for introductory biology and chemistry courses. Suzanne earned her PhD in Biology from MIT and her BA in Biochemistry from Colorado College and has been pursuing an interest in undergraduate science education for over a decade.

Filling the Great Teaching Void: Unusual Teaching Concepts

Armand R.  Tanguay, Jr.,  Professor of Electrical Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Biomedical Engineering, Ophthalmology, Physics, and Astronomy, University of Southern California

4:30 PM Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

East Bridge 201

Traditional university academic courses are often based on lectures, homework sets, examinations, and occasional laboratory exercises.  These types of courses are highly successful at encouraging the acquisition of new knowledge and skills for short term retention.  However, they fall far short of addressing key issues that are critical to professional success in science and technology.  This seminar is focused on a number of unusual teaching concepts that are designed to fill this gap at both undergraduate and graduate levels.  


Backpocket Barnburner - A Lightning Quick Overview of Educational Theory

Holly Ferguson, Ed.D., Program Manager, CTLO, Caltech

12 PM Friday, February 13th, 2015

Center for Teaching, Learning, and Outreach

This event will be a short introduction to a framework for understanding how people learn, given by our resident educational psychology expert Holly Ferguson, program manager at CTLO, who is incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. This session will cover TRIADIC RECIPROCITY - a model that shows the dynamic, interdependent relationship between personal, behavioral, and environmental factors in learning - from Social Cognitive Theory! CPET wil be leading the discussion portion of the session, and the event may be used to complete a journal entry for the CPET Certificate of Interest Program! I think the discussion will help us develop perspective on how we can support our students, so I hope you will attend! 

Leave the session with information you can keep in your back pocket...just in case.
Such as:
•    the language of the theory (terms, concepts, lingo)
•    search terms you can plug into databases to do educational research
•    seeds of ideas for applying theory to any learning/teaching experience
Additional Resources for Further Reading:
•    Overview of Social Cognitive Theory and Reciprocal Determinism
Frank Pajares and Ellen L. Usher
•    Social Cognitive Theory of Self-Regulation
Albert Bandura
•    The Self System in Reciprocal Determinism
Albert Bandura
•    Self-efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change
Albert Bandura

Effective Teaching of a Quantitative Course: From Designing to Teaching the Class

Dennis Kochmann, Assistant Professor of Aerospace, Caltech

4:30 PM Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014 

Beckman Institute Auditorium

How do you design a class such that your students haven’t forgotten everything you taught them right after finals week? Effective teaching requires a lot more than always showing up for class well prepared to carry out some intricate derivations on the board. It begins with the development of the class syllabus, includes the preparation of lecture notes and problem sets, and ultimately requires creating a unique microcosm in which students feel safe and comfortable and (hopefully) enjoy learning two or three times a week. Quantitative courses, such as many of our science and engineering core classes, can be particularly demanding due to the large amounts of abstract mathematical concepts that can be prone to get everybody lost and confused (students and teachers alike). Through a number of examples, I will share some of what I have learned while teaching various theoretical and applied mechanics classes over the past few years.

Professor Kochmann has been widely recognized for his ability to effectively guide students through complex material. His courses at Caltech include Mechanics of Solids and Structures (Ae102), Computational Mechanics (Ae108), and Continuum Mechanics of Fluids and Solids (Ae160). He has received the graduate student council teaching award multiple times for his outstanding instruction. 


Teaching Phys 1 and Other Courses at Caltech

Steven Frautschi, Emeritus Professor of Theoretical Physics, Caltech

5:00 PM Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

147 Noyes

Professor Frautschi, recipient of the 2013-2014 Feynman Teaching Prize, will share his experiences from an illustrious career of teaching at Caltech. From the Feynman teaching prize announcement:

Students describe Frautschi as "amazing," "awesome," and "beyond helpful." They enjoy his "use of uncommon real-world examples" along with his "awesome Converse shoes," and they say "learning from him is a blast." Others go even further. A biology major confesses, "I used to absolutely hate physics because I thought it was too difficult and useless, but Frautschi really clarified my understanding and sparked my interest in physics." Now, says this student, "I wouldn't be opposed to being a physics major solely because of him." Another student says simply, "I want to be like Professor Frautschi when I grow up."

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